Hands up all of you who have a robot to mow your lawn, vacuum your carpets and cook your dinner. No, I rather thought not.
if you don’t think it’s rather nosey of me to enquire of all those of you still doing your time in the World of Work, how many of you have an average working week of five hours a day, three days a week? Chance would be a fine thing, did I hear
According to the esteemed Henley Centre in a report published back in 1998, this is the kind of world we could have expected to inhabit in this year
of 2020. How could they have got it so wrong?
Yes, indeed, this is another Loft Clearance Related Blog (apologies in advance to anyone who is fed up with my loft
stories - I know just how you feel) this time focusing on my discovery of a scrapbook in which I have pasted a range of newspaper and magazine cuttings which must have captured my imagination twenty-two years ago. A few are understandable choices - like the
article by Angela Lambert, titled “The best bond of them all”, which is all about the delights of being a grandmother. Our first granddaughter, Katie, was seven months old at the time this appeared in the newspaper so it isn’t at all surprising
that I cut it out and kept it. I’ve also cut out Paul McCartney’s words to Linda, his dying wife: “You’re up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion - the bluebells are out and the sky is clear blue..” I remember that made me weep
at the time and wonder if anyone would send me on my way so thoughtfully when my time came.
I am less sure why I pasted in a cartoon about the Queen having
a new hairdresser and returning home to Prince Philip with her hair standing on end all over her head - but presumably I had my reasons, possibly something to do with my own hair-raising experiences.
But let’s go back to that report predicting life in 2020. There is a whole section about technology that does ring true. The report predicted that newspapers would be emailed to homes and letters would arrive on screen,
rather than via the postman; that shopping would also be done by computer and that face-to-face video conferences would replace phone calls. Meanwhile at work, applicants for a new job would fill in their details on-line, speeding up recruitment. People would
live longer, into their 80s and reaching the magic century would no longer be all that unusual.
In this 2020 vision of Britain, however, elderly people would
no longer be isolated as they would be living in larger houses with their children and grandchildren, thereby cutting the cost of living and of care. World-wide travel would be faster, because we would make practical use of the space shuttle; it would be possible
to travel from Heathrow to Australia in just two hours. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters, busily planning a trip Down Under this summer, will be wishing that were only true.
In 1998, the Henley Centre predicted there was an 80% chance we would be living in a Paradisiac Age, living longer, being healthier and happier. There was, however, an outside chance of a gloom and doom scenario which “depicts
a nation in which home ownership is out of reach for many, elderly people are resented as a financial burden and environmental ideals are an outdated luxury.” Obviously Greta Thunberg wasn’t born in 1998 to drive home the environmental message
- but otherwise there’s more than a touch of grim reality about the gloom and doom scenario.
But, hey, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. One of
my cuttings reports on the fact that Paddington Bear was so out of fashion in 1998 that the only British factory which had been making cuddly versions of everyone’s favourite marmalade-loving bear for more than 25 years had been forced into liquidation
with the loss of 21 jobs. The reason was laid firmly at the door of Paddington’s “declining popularity.”
Twenty-two years on and Paddington
is now riding high in the popularity stakes once again, thanks in part to two spectacularly successful feature films, but probably because, in the end, we all took the “Please look after this bear” message seriously. You can’t keep a good
bear down, now can you?
And if Paddington can turn things round, only being a bear don’t you know, surely we can too?